ERS325 - Field Camp I

ERS325: Field Camp – 1st to 13th May 2024


ERS325: Field Camp is a ~2 week field program set in Northern Ontario, focused around Whitefish Falls. You will be part of a group of UTM and St. George students who study the geology of the Canadian Shield, Huronian Group rocks, and the Palaeozoic Sediments, that dominate the landscape of Manatoulin Island, Elliot Lake, Sudbury and the area around Espanola.

To be eligible for ERS325, you need to:

  • Have finished your second or third year of your program.
  • Have completed ERS202 (Structural Geology) and ERS203 (Igneous Petrology and Magmatic Systems).
  • Be enrolled as an Earth Science Specialist, Major or Minor, or a Paleontology Major.
  • Be able to attend the entire trip, and be physically able to walk long distances over uneven ground
  • Complete the registration form (see end of page), and pay the required cost ($650) by Friday March 29th 

You do not need any previous field trip experience. The dates for the 2024 ERS325 trip are currently May 1st to May 13th. These dates are unlikely to change, but you should not plan any activities in the 2 days after the trip in case of unforeseen delays in returning to Toronto and Mississauga.

In addition, there will be a one-day training bootcamp trip on UTM campus on the 29th April.

The field camp will be based at Whitefish Falls, at the Bay River Lodge and Fishing Camp ( Accommodation will be in cabins, with between 4 and 8 people per cabin (depending on overall numbers on the trip). The cabins are rustic, but are heated, have a full bathroom with heated water in each, and power. There is internet at the lodge, but not in each of the cabins; however we cannot guarantee that the internet at the lodge will work when we are there. The cabins will also have all cooking utensils and dishes required for the week.

Required / Recommended Equipment

You will need to bring these things with you. Equipment in bold is required for the fieldwork – if you do not have this at the start of the trip, you may not be allowed on the trip. If you do not have them – borrow, rent, or buy them:

  • Boots with ankle protection (i.e. a boot, not a shoe). You will be walking considerable distances over the course of the trip, so you will want lightweight, comfortable walking boots. Ankle protection is required – in the event that you trip or fall, ankle protection will stop you from breaking your ankle. Steel caps are not required. Buy the best boots you can afford.
  • A waterproof jacket (+/- rain pants). In the event of wet weather, we will still go out in the field. A waterproof jacket made of good quality material (such as Gore-tex or similar) will keep you dry, which will keep you warm, which will make you more comfortable. Borrow from a friend or a family member if you can, or buy the best you can afford. Do not rely on a non-waterproof jacket that might suffice for short walks in the city.
  • Outdoor clothes for both warm and sunny (think ~20oC) or cold and snowing (<0oC). Remember that wool and synthetics keep you warm even when wet, while cotton will be cold. Avoid denim jeans. Jeans are notoriously bad for soaking up water and losing heat. It is a good strategy to dress in layers – many thinner layers is better than a couple of thick layers. We also recommend wool hiking socks, as wool prevents the formation of blisters.
  • Water bottles that can hold at least 2 liters – reuse a plastic water/soda/pop bottle if needed.
  • A day pack which can hold your rain jacket (and rain pants), warm layers, water, and lunch. This does not need to be fancy, but it does need to be comfortable as you will be wearing it ALL day. If it doesn’t come with a rain cover, then consider placing a large plastic bag or a garbage bag inside your day pack to ensure your belongings stay dry. 
  • A sleeping bag, or duvet, and pillow case. The cabins will provide basic sheets and pillows, but you will need to bring your own sleeping bag or duvet.
  • A broad-rimmed hat (UV/sun exposure can be high), a woolly hat, gloves and scarf.
  • Waterproof sunscreen and insect repellent. The sun can be very strong, especially if you are out all day. We are usually early enough in the season that mosquitos / black fly are not a problem, but bring some along if you have it, just in case.
  • Casual clothes for around camp. We cannot guarantee that laundry facilities will be available at the lodge, so it is advisable to bring a sufficient supply of clothes for the duration of the camp. However, you will be hand to hand wash clothes in your own cabins.
  • Toiletries and towel. Towels are not provided by the campsite, and you will need to bring your own toiletries.
  • Stationary equipment
    • Pencil for making notes in the field. A mechanical pencil is best – it never needs to be sharpened, and produces a thin line which is great for drawing and sketching. Spare leads should also be purchased. 
    • Coloured pencils (+ sharpener) – these are needed for the assessments, so are not optional
    • Eraser
    • Ruler
    • Protractor
    • A thin black and red ink pen – also needed for assessments
    • Anything else that you have used in ERS202 you should also bring along – there will not be an opportunity for you to borrow or buy any extra things that you forget during the trip – so bring anything that you have used in labs in the past semester.

You may also wish to bring your laptop, as some of the assessment can be completed and uploaded via Quercus. You do not need a laptop however, as the assessment can also be completed on paper.

We will provide you with the necessary geological field gear – notebooks, geological compass, hammer (when required) and hand lens, and all necessary paper for assessments. A notebook for you to write notes or plans when back at camp will be useful however.

Cost for trip

The cost for the trip, on top of tuition, is $650 which must be paid upon registration to the course, by e-transfer to Paul Ashwell ( This covers the accommodation and transport for the entire trip. However, you will need to arrange your own food for the trip. We will stop at supermarkets throughout the trip for you to purchase the food you will need. You will also need to pay for tuition and associated ancillary fees in advance of the course leaving.

Requirements for enrollment in course

  1. Enroll on Acorn as you would for all courses. You will be automatically added to an interim list, from which we will select students for the field course based on their completion of #2 and 3 below, their program (Specialists will be given priority over Majors, and Majors over Minors), and expected date of enrollment. If there are not enough spaces on the trip for everyone, an alternative will be offered, and full refund made of field trip fees.
  2. Pay fees ($650) via e-transfer to by 29th March.
  3. Complete this form by 29th March. This will cover next of kin information, as well as any relevant medical information that you feel comfortable sharing. Please read and answer all questions carefully.